*** SWAOG Observing Report Page ***

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Reports from the last few SWAOG Dark Site Observing Sessions are posted here.   Read the reports to learn about the great observing that the SWAOG members and participants are doing.   Please feel free to submit your own report from one of our recent SWAOG Dark Site Observing Sessions by sending your report to our webmaster (e-mail address link is below).


SWAOG Observing Session - Friday night, June 22nd, 2012

Hello SWAOG!  You can check me in for tonight's net.  I had a great time out at Silver Springs last Friday with Scanner Chuck and Eric (KC9MDO).  We were all surprised when someone else pulled in and started setting up a Meade 10 inch LX50 scope. It turned out that he is a member of Naperville Astronomy named George.  It was nice having someone besides the usual 3 of us at the dark site.
I brought my short tube 80 and my 16x60 Pentaxes.  Chuck brought his 10 inch Dob and Eric brought his new 14 inch Orion truss Dob.
I was really impressed with the object locaters these 2 are using now.  It is a voice activated system that responds to object commands and shoots a green laser to point out the objects.  It requires no batteries as it runs off of Cheerios and McDonald's.
It's called the Scanner Dave 3000.  Since both Chuck and Eric forgot their object locaters, I became the pointer for them with my 16x60's and Chuck's laser.
The skies turned out good and dew was no problem until the end of our session.  Eric's scope gave fantastic views of everything including M13, M57, M51, M104 and NGC's 7789 and 6572.  Chuck hunted down the fainter globs in Sagittarius, M69, M70 and M54. Saw a nice view of the Swan (M17) in George's Meade.
My favorite views of the night was the Cigar Galaxy (M82) in Eric's scope.  Detail was just amazing.  A lot of the dust structure was visible.  Also his view of the double-double in Lyra looked more like 4 planets than stars.  Amazingly bright and crisp separation.
Another highlight for me was once again witnessing a geostationary satellite, INTELSAT 1R (IS-1R) hovering close to M11.  It was the same brightness as the mag 3 star Lambda in the tail of Aquila.  It should be near M11 at 10:23pm tonight.  However it might not brighten until a half hour later (see pic of AQL tail).  Look for star drift behind the sat.  The sat remains motionless as the stars move. The line shows the track of most of the geo sats. Something to look for after the net. 

Have a great net!! 
Scanner Dave




SWAOG 'Impromptu' Observing Session - Wednesday night, June 29th, 2011

Here are a few pics from our observing session last night out at the dark site.  Scanner Chuck, and Mark (DSN) and I had a great time. Skies were mucky with debris clouds at sunset but after an hour or so they cleared up nicely.  Had a chance finally to play with my new Tasco short-tube 80.  This scope does a nice job on most objects.  It doesn't compare to my Celestron long tube 80 for planetary observing.  The real highlight for me was M81 and M82.  The short-tube framed them beautifully and sharply.  It was nice to see most of the summertime objects coming into view now.

Chuck also brought a couple refractors to play with.  His 100mm F6 gave us awesome views.  And Mark cheated and brought his 12-inch Dob.  But his view of M57 was real nice so I shouldn't complain.  The Milky Way was real nice at 1 am, about when we decided to pack up and call it a night.  We were even treated to a nice ISS pass.

I had a nice scare this morning when I was putting stuff away.  Looked inside the short tube with a flashlight and saw a big bug crawling around the focuser.  He was between the drawtube and outer tube so I had to take the scope apart to get him out.

Felt good to get out and do some real observing.

Scanner Dave


SWAOG Observing Session - Friday night, April 29th, 2011
SWAOG Observing report 4/29/11: Cloud cloud Saturn.

That pretty much sums it up for Friday night.  Chuck had the bright idea to go out and try and do some observing.  It was a Dark Site weekend, but weather has not been kind.  Jeff showed up as well.  I guess that makes Jeff and I gullible; we had a good time anyway.  It is kind of ironic that we three went out there to see clouds.  We all have bought new glass this season and everybody knows that when amateur astronomers buy stuff the skies never clear.  So we went observing anyway.  As Chuck and Jeff talked and set up, I was scanning the skies.  That paid off because I spotted the first star, Procyon and then the planet Saturn.  It was a challenging evening to say the least.  We all tried various eyepieces trying to coax Saturn into view.  There were a few times that Saturn cleared the clouds and the views were pretty good considering the wind was a factor also.  Chuck and I brought out our short tube refractors in the 80 and 90 mm size range and Jeff brought his Celestron Celestar-8, 8-inch Catadioptric (A catadioptric optical system is one where refraction and reflection are combined in an optical system).  Jeff managed to find M3 for the only DSO (Deep Sky Object) of the night.  The views in his scope were really good and whet our appetites for better conditions and the ubiquitous "There's always next time".
I am going to unpack and re organize my gear this Sunday for that "next time".  I also noticed a slight collimation error in my binoculars.  I fixed that before breakfast today as Venus was still visible in the morning sky.  Perfect conditions for a tune up. 
One last comment for the group, Once things get going this summer we would like to try a few "special event" nights.  Short tube night, binocular night, that kind of thing.  Let us know on the next net or two what you think.




Village of Homer Glen Observing Session - Saturday night, April 9th, 2011
On Saturday, April 9 2011, four SWAOG members - Scanner Dave, Scanner Chuck, KC9MDO Eric and KN9R John - attended the public viewing session at Trantina Farm in Homer Glen.  While the temperature was quite warm for the evening, the skies became overcast as the night progressed, limiting our observations to old time favorites.  About 50 to 60 members of the public attended and viewed the Moon, M42 Orion Nebula, Saturn and several bright stars.  The public enjoyed the views from our telescopes, asking numerous questions throughout the night.  One family brought their new Meade telescope and we assisted in the alignment process and reviewed features of their "go-to" telescope. 



SWAOG Observing Session - Saturday night, October 9th, 2010
Jeff,  We were able to get the comet at Silver Springs Saturday.  I found it in Mike's (KN9R's friend) Oberwerk binocs, but not until later in the night when it was high enough out of the muck.  It was large and diffuse in the binocs.  Once I knew where it was, I was able to see it in my 16x60's barely.
The view in John's Obsession was totally different.  It had a defined core with a coma around it.  Still a diffuse comet though, even with 18 inches of aperture !!!
The Obsession showed the Dumbbell like I have never seen.  Looked more like a watermelon with the apple core.
Mike's Oberwerk's are really neat to use.  He has a stool to use with the setup.  The 45 degree eyepieces make it a snap to pan around the sky. I had the most fun with them.
Chuck also brought his 25x100's so we really had it covered for binoc observing.
You missed a great night at the dark site.  Dave

SWAOG Observing Session - Friday night, March 5th, 2010
I (KN9R), along with my observing neighbor Mike, picked up Keith (N9YA) on our way to Silver Springs State Park for our first SWAOG observing session for 2010.  After several clear nights earlier this week, Friday continued to be nice.  We arrived just after 8PM and joined Jeff (WD9GVU) and scanners Dave and Chuck.

With my binoculars, Mike's big binos and Keith's small refractor, we saw many old time favorites of the winter sky.  M42, the Pleiades, the Orion "S", the Beehive, numerous star clusters, and Saturn were observed (that I remember!).  I even saw one meteor low in the western sky.

Mike was busy all night using his Oberwerk BT80 big binos that he purchased while he lived out of state - this was his first time under winter skies with it.  M42 was fantastic - big and bright.  Scanner Dave was helping Mike find some star clusters around Orion - testing out the capabilities of the big binos that has interchangeable 45 degree 1.25 inch eyepieces.

Scanner Chuck was testing out his new refractor he just purchased - he was not too pleased with the optics but hopefully he can do some "tweaking".

Keith was observing along with us, looking at M42, the Pleiades and Saturn.

Jeff was also using new equipment - (Jeff - fill in the type) a Skymaster 80mm??? refractor on Meade Mount.  After the initial setup and testing, he got the scope aligned and he was humming away all night.  Best view of the night (for me) was Saturn in his new refractor.  A real clear, crisp view of the planet and rings was observed.  I didn't want to get up and let others look!  (Jeff-  feel free to add more detail here if you like).

(from Jeff - WD9GVU / the new scope John was referring to is a Sky-Watcher 102mm (4-inch) f/9.8 refractor on a Meade LXD55 AutoStar "Go To" EQ Mount -- and John was right, the best view of the night in my opinion too was Saturn through my 4-inch refractor.  We could see the rings going around the back of the planet, and cutting across the front of the planet's disk, even though they are almost 'edge on'.)

At around 10:30pm the equipment was cold, our feet were cold and the eyepieces began to fog up - so we packed things up and went back home.  A good night of observing - looking forward to spring and warmer weather.

73's and clear skies -

John - KN9R

SWAOG Observing Session - Saturday night, March 21st, 2009
The stars aligned yesterday, so to speak, to permit my night of astronomy since October.  Daytime temps were above 60 and it was forecast to drop to around 40, no moon, no clouds and little to no wind.  A few phone calls and emails during the day cemented Enjoy Field as the viewing site.  Enjoy Field is a new ultralight/hang gliding airport south of Kankakee IL, situated amid the farms of NE Illinois, 5 miles from a nearby town of 1200, where the owner has graciously allowed us access to his property and amenities.
Packed my 6" reflector, associated gear and additional warm clothes into the little Mazda, left the driveway at 4:00pm to meet Newt at his place and transfer my stuff into his minivan along with his 15" Obsession and equipment for the 80 or so mile drive out from under Chicago's light dome.  The normally jam-packed 8-lane highway-into-tollway -- weekday rush hour is now 12-14 hours long -- was an easy drive on this Saturday allowing us to make the trip without the stop and start of normal traffic around the Big City.
Arriving at the airport at about 6pm gave us plenty of daylight time to set up, collimate and prepare for the hours ahead.  The owner, an old friend, and several pilots (accompanied by their young sons) were doing maintenance on one of the planes so a little time was spent with typical pilot talk before getting down to the job at hand.  Dave1 was already there as we pulled in and the three of us made quick work of the setup.  The plane was stowed in the hangar for evening work; I got the very large overhead folding door closed without any trouble in order to completely shut out the interior lights.
Dave's 4" refractor and 3 large tripod-mounted binocs attracted much attention, especially when he got first light on a silvery sliver of a crescent Venus which turned several shades of red as it slipped into the atmospheric muck. He then turned to Saturn... what a sight in the refractor! Crisp.  Sharp-edged.  No hint of wavering disturbances.  Perfect views of the oh-so-thin rings.  Not at all like the fuzzy ball seen in my old EdSci reflector.  Gorgeous!!!  The 2 small kids also got an eyeful, using my astro chair as a platform to stand on to reach eyepiece level.
As the light faded with a red layered sunset into the soft black of night, more and more stars began popping into plain view, always a pleasure to watch unfold.  At full-dark, Dave2 drove in, accompanied by Trevor, his cousin's soon-to-graduate-from- high-school son.  Trevor has plans on majoring in astronomy in college though his only views of what lies beyond have so far been through his 4" reflector from his home in the city... this was his first trip to a dark site with others and he wasn't disappointed.
The sky never really opened up... I've seen better clarity at Enjoy Field in the past.  Though the Clear Sky Clocks predicted excellent transparency and seeing, the Little Dipper showed only 3 stars clearly while the other Dipper stars could/might be seen if close attention was paid.  Surprisingly, I was able to snag views of mag 10-10.5 galaxies but M104, at mag 8.0, was just a fuzzy line.  Polaris' faint companion, mag 2 and 9 respectively, was difficult to discern.  However, without reciting a fairly long list of objects seen, we did absorb many multi-million year old photons and Trevor, as well as a couple of pilot friends, enjoyed seeing the clusters, nebulae and galaxies that were all new to them.
The 1am drive home with Newt -- he and I trade the driving chore, he takes the wheel on the way down and I drive back -- was a pleasant non-event.  One topic usually discussed during the long drive is Sight of the Night.  For Newt, SotN was NGC 2903, a spiral galaxy in western Leo.  I had 2 SotNs: the view of Saturn with Tethys through the refractor -- I'd never seen THAT much difference in views before -- and seeing Trevor's eyes light up with each new sight (did they really cast a shadow?) from the objects to the dark sky and the horizon-to-horizon views.

- Peter - KB9SYC
Another SWAOG Observing Session - Saturday night, March 21st, 2009
Just wanted to say what a blast I had at enjoy field last night.
Thanks to Joe for letting us hang out. (btw I was kicking myself on the way home, I forgot to slip Joe a 5, I even stopped on the way out there and bought something in manteno to make change for a 20) well next time i will remember.
My cousins son Tyler also had a blast. He was just blown away by the views.

Dave - KC9KPQ


SWAOG Observing Session - Saturday night, August 30th, 2008
Me, Scanner Chuck and Eric (KC9MDO) went to Silver Springs Saturday night (Aug. 30th).  Light pollution is severe there now. Milky Way is dim and half the sky to the East is the light dome now.
We did manage to have a great time there though. Eric and Chuck had there 10 inch dobs. I knew they were going to be there, so I left the refractor home and just used my binocs and spotter scope.
I managed to catch the Table of Scorpius (NGC 6231), so the skies must have been good to get something that low ( 5 degrees). M7 and M6 are always great there, even in small scopes.
Chuck was using Pete's book like a mad man in Cassiopeia. He can surf the sky fast punching the numbers into his Intelliscope.  The big highlight was the White Rose, NGC 7789 in Cassiopeia. Just a great cluster !! I think I was even seeing it in my spotter here in Burbank the following night.
We also showed the game warden a few objects when he stopped in to check the grounds. He showed a real interest in the views.
This had to be about the 4th time this Summer that it was just us three at the dark site. Still a lot better place to observe than the homefront.
Scanner Dave
SWAOG Observing Session - Saturday night, July 5th, 2008

Took a trip to the dark site Saturday, July 5th with Scanner Chuck and met up with Eric (KC9MDO) for great night of observing.  Chuck brought his Orion 10 inch Dob, I brought my Celestron 80mm scope and Pentax 16x60 binocs.  Eric brought his Zhummel 10 inch Dob, Celestron C90, and a couple neat techno goodies!!
Skies were real good, but not the best I've seen there.  The bugs were nasty for an hour.  Dew was only a problem on the tables, not with the equipment.  Little Dipper dim star was visible, but with averted vision for me.  Milky Way arched beautiful across the sky, but again not the brightest I've seen.
Caught Saturn and Mars in my scope.  A real flat ring around Saturn now.  Also saw M104 low in SW.  And of course Jupiter dominated the skies. 
Other objects were many with Scorpio and Sagittarius in great position now.  My 80mm showed M23 great and also M5 with some resolving.  Eric had a great view of M8, M57 and M27 with his Dob.  Chuck showed a great view of M13 and my favorite M11. 
We had a great time jumping from scope to scope.  The view of M8 (Lagoon) was the highlight of the night for me.  Could see why it got it's name with the wide wavy nebula in two separate sections, just great!!

Hope to do it again soon!!   Scanner Dave
SWAOG Observing Session - Saturday night, May 3rd, 2008

Had a good time with John, KN9R at the dark site Sat. night, May 3rd.  The sky cleared out beautiful when we arrived at about 9:45pm.  Saw M44 by eye as soon as I got out of the car!!  Little Dipper was fully visible. 
Brought my 16x60 binocs and 80mm refractor but ended up using my neighbor's 25x100 Barska binocs.  The scope never even got out of my car.  Me and John had a fun time looking for galaxies with the Barska's. 
M81 and M82 were great.  The cigar galaxy really seemed stretched out in the Barska's.  M65 and M66 were also great.  We couldn't get the triplet NGC galaxy however.  Also found M64 and M49, without the aid of go-to devices, just star charts.  Also a nice view of the Sombrero M104.
M44 was awesome.  A whole field filled with pepper and bright stars.  And M67 was also a real beauty.  I guess aperture talks, because my 16x60's just couldn't match the great views we were getting in the big boys.
And for good measure we saw Ghost of Jupiter (NGC 3242), M13 and M92, M57, M10 and M12, M5, M53, and a dim M4 in a very low Scorpius.  Not enough power to resolve any globs, but they were quite bright.  M53 was also a surprise, very bright. We mistook it for a Virgo galaxy until we figured out where we were looking. 
Just a little dew at Midnight when we called it quits.  You missed a great night. 

Later, (Scanner) Dave
SWAOG Observing Session - Friday night, November 2, 2007
Hi everyone,

On Friday the 2nd I joined Jeff WD9GVU at the Dark Site and here is my report.

I arrived shortly after 7 pm and was greeted by Jeff shortly after.  Looking up was a disheartening sight.  The sucker holes would not even reveal 2 alignment stars.  We decided to set up any way because had faith in the forecasts we checked earlier.  That paid off big time!

The clouds slowly moved on and we noticed milky way around 9 o'clock.

First was 17P/Holmes.  What a beautiful sight, as this was my first chanced to view it away from Light Polluted Skies.  It looked fantastic in my Hutech 22x100 binoculars and even better in the 10inch Dob.  I also tried some filters on it and the Orion SkyGlow revealed a sort of bow shock on one side and a fading coma directly opposite. 

Then it was on to the others.

I recently got a copy of Peter's book OITH. Great.  We were playing around in CAS and I saw NGC 7635 was close by and WOW there it was.  The Bubble Nebula!  This is a challenging object. (hint...O-III filter and big aperture)  I got it in my 10 inch and Jeff reported nothing in his 8 inch SCT!

Special thanks to Peter for I probably would have never thought to look for that if not for OITH. (how about a page noting filter only objects in version 4.0....wink,wink) 

We also tried for and saw M57 in Jeff's Miyauchi's and My Hutech's.  No detail at low power but I could tell it was not a normal star.

There was also the big and Little Dumbbell, E.T., the 'mini Dipper', M45, and the ever popular MUCH MORE.

Well that's it.  I'll leave you with a link I found this morning all about filters.  Check out the grins and giggles. I didn't know Antares was a double. That's our next challenge.  http://sciastro.net/portia/advice/filters.htm

Clear skies and 73,

SWAOG Observing Session - Friday, August 31, 2007
Keith (N9YA), Scanner Eric, Scanner Chuck and John (KN9R) went to the dark site on Friday August 31.  After a perfectly clear day, the night started out clear, calm, cool and no mosquitoes - just right for observing.  And observing is what we did - everything just seemed to pop out at you - including a fuzzy milky way early in the evening.  Scanner Eric and Scanner Chuck were going after dark sky objects with their Dobs, comparing and trading eyepieces.  Keith was looking through his spotter scope at Jupiter and for the asteroid Vesta which was nearby.  I concentrated my LX-90 on the teapot area as I cannot view this part of the sky from home.  Chuck saw a huge fireball in the northern sky that I thought was someone lighting a cigarette.  The sheriff also stopped by and had a peek through Chuck's Dob. 

We knew we had to hurry our observing as moonrise was early that night.  After a beautiful orange moonrise over the trees, things began to get a little wet.  Scanner Eric got hit first.  We noticed fog over the airfield.  I took several pictures and the fog looks worse that it really was.  We then did some moon and star cluster observing.  Everything got pretty wet by 11pm and so we all packed up - happy to have the chance to observe what we did.

PS - Good luck to Scanner Eric who will take the Tech exam this Saturday. Hopefully we will have another ham in part because of SWAOG and one more ex-scanner!

Clear Skies and 73s,
John - KN9R
SWAOG Observing Session - Saturday, June 9, 2007

Paul, Scanner Chuck, Scanner Dave and I, John, KN9R went to the dark site and enjoyed many globular clusters and galaxies all evening long. Paul brought his 4 inch refractor, Chuck his 10 inch Dob, Dave had his binoculars and I brought my short tube 80 and binoculars. My back hurt too much to pack my LX-90 so I did some "parasitic observing" through Paul's and Chuck's telescopes. Thanks guys!

We were first treated to views of Jupiter and Saturn as darkness fell, then went for brighter objects like M13 and M92 that were spectacular. After seeing the asteroid Vesta for the past several nights from home, I again found the mag 5 rock just above Jupiter with binoculars. We all then went galaxy hunting - M104 - the Sombrero was a test of several lenses, then on to M81 and M82, M86/84 in Virgo, and the Leo triplet - M65 M66 and NGC 3628. It took a while to find NGC 3628, but thanks to Chuck's charts we did it! Then on to more globulars like M80, M3 and M4, with a look also at M51, the Whirlpool galaxy and other objects to numerous to list here. Several meteors also made the evening to remember. An old faithful, the Ring nebula, was impressive as usual.

As it got later we went after the Wild Duck Cluster (a favorite of Scanner Dave), the Eagle and Lagoon nebulas and got blinded by Jupiter one last time. It was amazing that we could see objects in the low southern sky as clearly as we did. While light pollution was a little more prevalent this time, we saw the Milky Way appear out of the light dome as we packed up around midnight.

Good views are still available south and west at this site. All but one of the little dipper stars were seen - one of the bucket stars was elusive. It was somewhat damp, but an enjoyable, wind free evening with few bugs made us all glad we went observing at Silver Springs!

Clear skies to all,
John, KN9R
Here is a report from the SWAOG Observing Session held on Saturday night, October 14th:
Hey Jeff,

Yep, I too caught Comet Swan with binocs and followed up with a view through the small (80mm) refractor I brought along to Plano.  I agree -- it was easy to find, but not much to see.

I had the "dark" site parking lot all to myself Saturday evening (not counting the howling coyotes nearby).  I got there a little after 7 pm and the sky was totally cloudless, plus the gusty winds from earlier in the day had calmed down.  It was cool, but not yet cold.  The viewing was good, but the light pollution just seems to be spreading.  Seems every time I drive out that way (by the way, the driving from downtown was horrible on the Eisenhower, due apparently to traffic diverted from the Stevenson where there was a serious accident), another well-lit strip mall or subdivision has gone up on previously dark-at-night farmland.  Some call this progress.  For me, the verdict is still out.

Here is a report from the CAS Little Red School House Public Observing Session held on Saturday night, Oct. 7th:
Jeff, Whew!  Just got done with LRSH tonight.  Good thing I decided to go and to bring my refractor with!  We were hurting for scopes.  Had one 8 inch Dob, two  60mm refractors and me with my 80mm, that was it!
A lot of public showed up including some cub scouts that needed to see some constellations for their class.  At least I could help them with that.  Showed people the double cluster, ET, and your mini dipper.  Not too awe inspiring in my scope.  Double cluster got pretty nice as it rose.  Moonlight just killed the views though.  M13 and M15 were dim.  Alberio was too high for my scope.  M31 was awful, even in the 8 inch Dob too!
But I'd say the Moon was the big highlight of the night.  My refractor gives a great view at 105x.  Low power gave the whole view.  Check out the pic of the full moon I took thru the 16x60's with the digital camera.  Not bad!
Weather was great, and the people were great, so it was a good time.  You should have seen my eyepiece when I got home,  YIKES!!!   Surprised we were able to see thru it.
I found Uranus with my refractor without any trouble, but it was too small, even with 105x to make out a disk. (Actually, I thought my Pentax binoculars gave a great view of it the other night, showing color in the planet.)
A few people asked me about those earthsize and magnitude 7 star charts that I had with me.  I gave them the info for SWAOG web site and Cloudynights web site for the magnitude 7 charts. 
Hope you were able to get out and observe!    

Scanner Dave #1


Here is a report from the SWAOG Observing Session held on Friday night, June 23rd:

Thanks to Scanner Dave #2 I was able to get a ride to the dark site Friday night.  First time there this year, but sure picked a great night to go!  Skies were fabulous!  Dave #2 had his 10" dob and Jeff brought his LX90 8".  Great views in both!  I traveled light with my 16x60's. Keith, Doug, and Serge were also there.
Was able to see Mars, Saturn and the Beehive setting in the West.  Also caught the Sombrero galaxy still at a good height, awesome! Then caught M65 and M66 in Leo, this was all before total darkness!
Among other objects were M81,M82, M97, M108, M51, Blue Racquetball (NGC 6572), Veil, Bug, Dumbbell and Saturn nebulae.  NGC 6231 looked great in Keith's tabletop scope.  Also got first looks for me of M94 (very bright!), M56 (thanks to Doug) and NGC 6709 (just by luck) in my binocs.  And of course I enjoyed sweeping the Teapot and Scorpius as well.  And we were also able to squeeze in an ISS and NOSS 2-1 triplet satellite pass!  Not a bad nights work! 
Scanner Dave #1
Here is a report from the SWAOG Observing Session held on Friday night, April 21st:
Three SWAOG observers, Jeff- WD9GVU, Jeff's friend Doug, and Mark - KC9DSN went out to the April 21st SWAOG Observing Session for a great evening of observing!  A few of the objects we observed include M41, M42, M44, Saturn, Jupiter, M104 (Sombrero Galaxy), M65, M66, M95, & M96 galaxies in Leo, M51, M97, M108, M35 (with NGC 2158 inside), M3, M5, and the worst view of M57 that we ever had! (it was low in the light-polluted eastern sky)  Tune in to the April 27th Astronomy Net to see if we spotted comet 73P!!!
Jeff - WD9GVU     
Here is a report from the SWAOG Observing Session held on Saturday night, February 25th:
I had my 8-inch Dob and 22x60 Miyauchi binoculars out at the dark site last night along with my friend Doug and his 8-inch Dob, and John - KN9R with his new Celestron 10x50 LPR binoculars.  I made a point of looking for M76 (the Little Dumbbell) since I was not able to see it on Monday night when I was out observing with the Kane County Astronomical Society.  I found it, but boy was it tiny in a 25mm eyepiece. I put a 10mm in and it looked a whole lot better.  Now I understand why I couldn't find it easily on Monday night with the KCAA, it's not in the best part of the sky this time of year.  I should have been looking for it 3 months ago, it would have been much higher in the sky and in a darker portion of the sky.

The highlight of the evening for me last night was the NGC 2158 cluster on the edge of M35. Boy, was it beautiful!   We also enjoyed a nice view of M3 a little after 11pm, which tells me that spring isn't too far away!
Jeff - WD9GVU
Here is a report from the SWAOG Observing Session held on Saturday night, January 21st, from our friend and fellow observer Paul Francuch:
I made it to Plano at about 7:30 pm.  Fortunately, it was clear at the observing spot, however the drive down Illinois route 47 from I-88 toward Yorkville was a bit unnerving at times due to stretches of dense fog (visibility at times was no more than about 20 feet; I saw one knucklehead ahead of me try to pass the slow moving traffic, avoiding a head-on by just seconds).

The sky at Silver Spring was good from about 10-20 degrees above the horizon (fog and haze below that), and typically dark facing S-SW (lots of light pollution to the east; LP seems to be getting worse to the NW with new development past Plano).  The parking lot was partly plowed, but icy, and the lawn was snow covered.   Temps about that time were in the lower-20s (according to a bank's outdoor temperature sign in Plano).

I set up an 8" f/6 Orion dob.  The usual suspect targets looked good -- M42, high sky open clusters, Saturn.  But the scope became quickly frost covered and my footing was a bit tricky.  I stayed about a half hour.

The good news is that gas in Yorkville was $2.25 a gallon -- a bargain compared to the $2.75 for unleaded regular charged by Captain Hook's Shell station across the street from me here in Old Town.
Best regards,

Here is a report from the CAS Little Red School House Public Observing Session held on Saturday night, September 3rd:
Little Red School House Saturday September 3, 2005

Although this is not a SWAOG event I thought I'd share something with you.  I trained my trusty 6-inch Newtonian on M11, the Wild Duck open cluster.  One young man approached the eyepiece, tweaked the focus, and exclaimed "Oh Wow ... Wow."  That spontaneous and heartfelt statement "Oh Wow ... Wow" is what it's all about.  It doesn't get any better than that.

Clear skies 

Don - KB9SWI

Here is a report on the SWAOG Observing Session held on Friday night, September 2nd:
Silver Springs Friday September 2, 2005

What a great night. It was very clear early on. Jupiter and Venus were brilliant in the fading light early on and fewer than two degrees apart. I arrived just about sunset and scanner Dave showed up about 45 minutes after that. Later in the evening Jeff, and then Serge and three friends stopped by.

I observed many globular and open clusters and nebulae. Great views on all of them through the 6-inch f8 Newtonian.

Particularly memorable were the great naked eye views of the Coathanger and the large clusters in and around Sagittarius.  The Dumbbell was spectacular in my 6-inch Newtonian and Herschel's Garnet Star in Cepheus was blood red.  Scanner Dave said that some call it Arakis.  That's the name of one of the planets in the novel Dune.  I was surprised to hear that and I could not find any reference to it by that name anywhere so maybe Dave is starting a new tradition.

In any case I had an eyeful up until about 10:45 and enjoyed myself immensely.
Don - KB9SWI
Here is a report on the SWAOG Observing Session held on Saturday night, August 27th:  
The Friday night, August 26th SWAOG Observing Session was clouded out, but 6 observers came out to the Saturday night, August 27th session.  The skies were clear and we had 3 scopes & 5 sets of binoculars out that evening.
Jeff - WD9GVU with his 8" LX-90 SCT, Miyauchi 22x60 binocs, and Orion Scenix 8x42 binocs, 
Jeff's friend Doug with his Celestron Skymaster 15x70 binocs 
Don - KB9SWI with his Discovery 12.5" Dob
Serge with his Takahashi 22x60 binocs
Sergio's friend Mike with his Orion ED refractor
and a new observer, Ling.
This was Ling's first time out to an observing session, and she thoroughly enjoyed some of the wonderful views of nebulae, globular clusters, open clusters, galaxies, and the Milky Way!
We had a great time, the skies were decent and the weather was perfect.
Jeff - WD9GVU
Here are a couple of reports on the SWAOG Observing Session held on Saturday night, August 6th:    

Had a great time observing at the dark site with my friend Ray Saturday night August 6th!!!   Really awesome skies!!  I don't know where to begin for object observing.

Mark (KC9DSN) treated me to some great views of the Swan, Dumbbell, and Veil nebulae in his Orion 12" Dob.  First view of the Swan I've had, it was neat! Saturn Nebula (NGC 7009) was very bright and green. M11 was also great in his scope. 

Jeff (WD9GVU) showed me a fantastic globular cluster tour in his LX90 'go-to' scope!!!  We hopped from M92 to M13 to M2 to M15. All looked great!!  Also treated me to my first look at the 'Blinking Planetary' Nebula (NGC 6826)!  A must see!  Also saw the above nebulae and many other objects in his scope.

Serge (AK9S) brought his new 102 ED Meade refractor.  Awesome looking scope and mount. Didn't see much in it this trip.  They were giving the scope a shakedown on its first setup. Can't wait to see Mars in it! (it was too low in sky)

My 16x60 Pentaxes gave me great views all over.  The Lagoon Nebula looked very large at times and was an easy naked eye object on the edge of the rainbow looking Milky Way.  It stretched from SW horizon to Cassiopeia in the NE. All the globs that are difficult or invisible at home are easy targets at the dark site.  M4, M62, M19, M80, M23, M55 and M71 among others.  M23 resolved great in my binocs.  M6 and M7 are always great at the dark site.

I can't describe how great it is to just pan the sky with binocs there.  It's hard not to hit a NGC object.  I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to sit in the lawn chair and pan around, but I was having way too much fun looking thru my binocs and the scopes.

Clear skies!  And hope to do it again soon!   Dave (Scanner Dave form Burbank)

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The August 6th SWAOG Observing Session was FANTASTIC!!  It was one of the best observing nights out at the Dark Site that we have had in a long time.  The weather, skies, seeing, & temperature all seemed perfect!  You couldn't have asked for a better night!  We had 9 observers with 3 telescopes and 6 sets of binoculars out observing on this fabulous night.  Jeff - WD9GVU & his friend Doug, Scanner Dave from Burbank with his friend Ray, Mark - KC9DSN & his daughter Amy, and Serge - AK9S with his friends Mike & Mark all came out to enjoy the views.  We even had a pirate scope out there that night!

Jeff - WD9GVU

Here is a report on the SWAOG Observing Session held on Friday night, August 5th:  
Hi Serge,
I was on the road yesterday afternoon and just continued on to Plano, where I set up about 7:30 pm and then watched streams of cirrus cloud swirl about, and expand.  I've seen such early evening conditions before.  They usually give way to clear skies.  But the air was thick with humidity and the cloud
wasn't clearing out fast -- so I did (about 9:15 pm).  By the time I got back to town (about 10:30 pm), the skies were clear.

Oh well.

Can't make it tonight.  Hope the observing is good.  Yes, let's do the refractor comparison perhaps in late fall before weather conditions become unbearable.

Paul F.
Here is a report on the SWAOG Observing Sessions held on Friday night, July 29th, and Saturday, July 30th:    

The Friday night, July 29th SWAOG Observing session had 5 people attend with 2 scopes and 5 sets of binoculars.
Sergio - AK9s came out with his Takahashi 22x60 binoculars
Sergio's friend Mike brought his Apogee 25x100 binoculars
Mark - KC9DSN brought his 12-inch Orion Dob
Jeff - WD9GVU had his 12.5-inch Meade Dob, his Miyauchi 22x60 binoculars, and his Celestron Ultima 8x56 binoculars
Jeff's friend Doug brought his new Celestron Skymaster 15x70 binoculars.
The weather forecasts didn't look the greatest, but we were amazed to see that the clouds cleared out nicely and we had a pretty decent night of observing.
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Saturday night, July 30th, was predicted to be a better night than Friday was, so 5 more SWAOG observers went out for another great night of observing with 5 scopes and 3 sets of binoculars.  Two die-hard observers went out BOTH nights, Mark - KC9DSN and Jeff - WD9GVU.
Mark - KB9WLX brought his LX-90 and his new Meade Deep Sky Imager and did some imaging
Mark - KC9DSN brought his 12-inch Orion Dob
Jeff - WD9GVU had his 12.5-inch Meade Dob, his Miyauchi 22x60 binoculars and his Celestron Ultima 8x56 binoculars
Keith - N9YA brought his new 60mm short-tube refractor and a new set of 10x50 binoculars
Jeff's friend Dave from LRSH came out with his Orion 10-inch Dob.
We had a small wave of clouds move briefly through from north to south, but it wasn't very much of a problem at all.  Some clouds did start to roll in a little after midnight so we all packed up and headed out after another great night of observing.
We had great views of the Milky Way from Sagittarius through Cygnus on both nights!  Some of the objects that we viewed the two nights included Jupiter, M57, M29, M8 (Lagoon Nebula), M20 (Trifid Nebula), M17 (Swan Nebula), M27 (Dumbbell Nebula), the M4 Globular (??) in Scorpius, M22, M24 (the Star Cloud), M13, M92, M11 (the Wild Duck Cluster), the Coathanger Cluster, M15, M31, M6, M7, M51, M81/M82, the Double Cluster, NGC 7009, NGC 6826 (the blinking planetary), the ET Cluster (NGC 457), and many others.
We saw several meteors mostly on Friday night, but the highlight of the evening on Saturday night was the bright, slow-moving fireball that streaked across the sky from west to east, and broke up into two pieces right overhead!  It lasted for several seconds!

Jeff - WD9GVU
Here is a report on the Saturday night, July 9th, SWAOG Observing Session from our friend and fellow SWAOG Observer, Scanner Dave from Burbank:    

Jeff, I talked Ray into going and we took a ride to the dark site Sat. Serge told me via email that he might head out there with a few others. It was so clear out I was sure somebody would be there. We pulled into the lot at 9:30 and there was just one mini-van sitting there. I got out of Ray's truck and walked up to this guy and said "Hi, Scanner Dave here!" He gave me a funny look and then I found out he was no astronomer. We weren't there 2 minutes and some woman came pulling in to meet this guy. I think we spoiled their picnic table action for the night. Me and Ray had the place to ourselves after they pulled out. It was a good clear night. About the same as last week with just a touch of the setting moonlight. Bugs were attacking pretty good. No dew to contend with any way. We just brought our binos again figuring there would be some scopes there. Oh well, no great loss, we just have our 80mm and 90mm refractors at home any way. It was fun to sit and relax and just take in the Milky Way and the Teapot. With no dew I could compare my views of M81 and M82 to Serge's Taks. No comparison! Galaxies are dimmer and less defined in my binocs. I guess they should be in cheaper binocs! However, I really enjoyed my views of the Dumbbell, Lagoon, M16, M17, and M18 in my Pentax binocs. What I really liked the most though was the Butterfly Cluster (M6). Really beautiful at the dark site. Can't wait to try the Taks (and your Miyauchis) on some of this stuff!! I only looked at a couple of them last week. And I was finally able to recline back and enjoy M13 and M92 by the zenith this trip. Stunning even in binocs. M13 and M22 are scary looking at the dark site. Look like some killer asteroids heading for us. Can't believe nobody showed on such a nice night. I can see why those that got skunked Friday didn't feel like heading out Saturday.  We only stayed to 11pm or so. I think we were both scared some more lovers might pull in.

Dave  (Scanner Dave from Burbank)
Here is a report on the Friday night, July 8th, SWAOG Observing Session from our friend and fellow SWAOG Observer, Serge - AK9S:

8 people showed up.  The clear sky clock and local forecasts were grossly wrong, in that we had partial cloud cover.  Still had an enjoyable time.
Don - 6" Dob
Pete - 6" Dob
Re-Pete - 15" Obsession
John - 8" LX90 Schmidt-Cass.
Mike - 25x100 binos
Serge - 22x60 binos
Joe & Liz - 60mm Achromatic refractor
Don and Pete compared scope performance, as Pete just had his mirrors re-coated.   Pete's scope had a slight edge on light performance.  Both Criterion Dynascopes from the 1970's perfumed very well for their respective apertures.  Re-Pete's Dob gave bright images of M57 and M27.  The Dumbbell Nebula had an hourglass shape under direct vision using an O-III (oxygen-3) filter.  That is not possible with my 11" scope.  Very nice!  Re-Pete also had his optics recoated.  Spent little time with John this time around.  Joe & Liz were a couple of teenagers who happened to be there.  They never heard of our group before.  Mike and I looked at the Wild Duck Cluster and some globs (globular clusters) in Scorpio using his 100mm binos.

Serge - AK9S
If you would like to attend one of our regular SWAOG Observing Sessions, e-mail our Net Control Operators to let them know that you're coming, and CLICK HERE for a map & directions, current sky conditions, and other SWAOG Observing Site Information.  Visit the link above to see our list SWAOG Observing Sessions.
CLICK HERE to download a copy of Jeff's monthly Binoculars Object List  (use this list when you come out observing with us)    GREAT for small scopes, too!